Hamas and ousted Fatah leader unite against Abbas
PALESTINIAN President Mahmoud Abbas’s plan to isolate his political rivals Hamas in the Gaza Strip appears to be backfiring, with his erstwhile competitor for control of the West Bank, ousted Fatah leader Muhammad Dahlan, forming an alliance with Hamas against Abbas.
On Monday, Israel began reducing electricity supplies to the besieged Gaza Strip to only three hours a day in agreement with Abbas who said the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority (PA) would no longer foot the entire bill for Gaza’s electricity supplies which have been partially funded by taxes Israel collects on behalf of the PA.
Following these, and other punitive measures by Abbas, Hamas politburo deputy chairman in Gaza, Khalil Al Hayya, called on Sunday for the establishment of a “national rescue front” to challenge the PA, confirming the Islamist movement’s collaboration with Dahlan, the Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported.
Elected in February, Al Hayya slammed the PA for its recent decision to request that Israel reduce its supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip, despite warnings by human rights organisations about the disastrous effect this would have on the coastal territory’s two million inhabitants.
“We won’t stand idly by as these practices lead to deprivation of medicine.
“This policy unites us all in Gaza and consolidates our belief that our plight is being hijacked by Abbas,” said Al Hayya.
Gaza is already under a severe Israeli and Egyptian blockade that has limited imports of fuel and the supply of electricity, seriously diminishing the ability of the strip’s hospitals and sewerage treatment plants to function.
However, this new alliance, on the tenth anniversary of the military coup in Gaza which saw Hamas overthrow a joint PA-Hamas unity government, shows Palestinian politics doing a 180 degree shift, simultaneously emphasising the adage that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.
Hamas’s military coup in 2007 was reported to be an attempt to head off a coup against Hamas by Dahlan, a prominent Fatah leader in Gaza, with Israeli and American backing. Having failed, Dahlan eventually returned to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, nominally ruled by the PA, and attempted to undermine Abbas’s rule while busying himself building up his own support base.
However, Dahlan was ousted from the Fatah movement in 2011 following charges of corruption and crime by Fatah’s Central Committee, a decision supported by Abbas who is also Fatah’s chairman.
Before he could be tried, the former Fatah strongman fled to Jordan after issuing a scathing attack on Abbas. Palestinian security forces subsequently raided his house in the de-facto Palestinian capital of Ramallah in the central West Bank and arrested his guards.
During his time in exile Dahlan continued to work towards replacing Abbas, culminating in serious clashes between PA security forces and his armed followers in a number of West Bank refugee camps.
Now, not only does Dahlan have the support of Hamas, but reportedly the Egyptians too.
The Israeli daily Haaretz reported several days ago that Hamas officials who met Egypt’s intelligence chief had reached agreements including the appointment of Dahlan to run a committee in charge of Gaza affairs.
Palestinians sit outside their houses as they escape from the heat during a power cut at Shati refugee camp in Gaza City on Monday.